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An Open Letter To Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO Mike Jeffries

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Abercrombie & Fitch Ad

Dear Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries,

I used to see your brand walk up and down the halls of my high school way back in the day. Before I really even knew who you were, there you were — in the form of jeans, shirts and other fashion statements of the late ’90s. At the time, I thought I hated you for the simple reason that the popular kids seemed to have a monopoly on you, and in my mind, popular was synonymous with evil. But, I’m older and wiser now, and know it’s not the popular kids that I loathe.

It’s your “you’re not good enough” mentality.

Because, let’s just be real for a minute here. We both know that’s the whole crux of your marketing objective — to make young women self-conscious and inferior. You want them to look at your perfectly crafted ads and stare longingly at your perfect models wearing your perfect clothes. And then you want them to do everything they can to become part of your own “in” crowd. You want them to change. And if they don’t, well, you want to have nothing to do with them. It’s true. You’ve actually said it yourself. You don’t want what you call “fat chicks” wearing your brand; bad for business, huh? Maybe that’s why you refuse to carry any size larger than a 10?

You spoke to Robin Lewis for his book The New Rules of Retail, who says, “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”

Honestly, your views are just disgusting. Your attitude toward plus-sized women is inexcusable. It’s this sort of fat-shaming that is creating this culture where young women feel like they can’t be who they are, where they must fit into some sort of mold because they’re nothing if they’re not skinny. Skinny is beauty. Skinny is perfection. Anything other than that is just plain worthless.

Three words: Shame on you. No, wait, I’ve got nine words for you: You. Are. A. Sorry. Excuse. For. A. Human. Being. A sorry, pitiful excuse, indeed. But do you want to know what’s really disgusting? People who perpetuate such superficial stereotypes and only look at beauty in terms of black and white with zero shades of gray in the middle. And what’s even more despicable? Companies that seek to capitalize by preying on young women’s shaky self-confidence. Young women have a hard enough time trying to figure out who they are in this big world — people like you and companies like yours make their journey even harder and even more complicated.

So I don’t look like one of your scantily clad, perfectly proportioned models. I get that. I know that. And believe it or not, I’m really OK with that. I know I’ll never have a body like the models in your ads. But here’s the best part: I don’t want a body like that. Ever. Because it’s not how I was meant to look. There’s something incredibly sexy and attractive about being real and being who you are. I wouldn’t ever want to fall in love with someone who was pretending to be someone else, so why would I accept anything less for myself?

You want only good-looking and skinny people associated with your brand? OK, fine. I’d rather have real any day.

Sincerely,

Melissa Blake

P.S. You brand yourself as being the casual, all-American style. Hmmm, looks like you might have some re-branding work ahead of you. I’m not an industry expert, obviously, but something tells me that “Casual, all-American style as long as you’re under a size 10; fatties need not apply” isn’t the best slogan. Kind of a mouthful. not to mention alienating. Just a thought.

Melissa Blake is the blogger behind So About What I Said. This piece was cross-posted with her permission.

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